I have a friend who, for a very brief time, owned a smart car . . . you know, one of those vehicles that anticipates what is happening—or is about to happen—and reacts accordingly. Not long after he bought it, he was driving down the road, minding his own business, when another car pulled out in front of him. So he did what most all of us would do. He swerved to avoid hitting the offender.
His car didn’t like that.
His car thought he had crossed the center line without just cause, so it yanked him back into his original lane. Unfortunately, not knowing its own strength, the car yanked too hard, sending him into the ditch.
As soon as he had collected his wits he went back to the dealer and traded for a not-so-smart-car.
As amazing and as helpful as technology can be, there are times when it is absolutely no substitute for human interaction, because there are times when all the technology in the world can’t accurately assess a situation and respond correctly . . . like say when you swerve to miss someone who obviously doesn’t know how to drive.
Yes, technology can be our friend and when it comes to communicating with the rest of the world, platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can be great tools. They’re fast and easy and can reach an enormous number of people in less than the blink of an eye. And they offer people the chance to respond just as quickly . . . which isn’t always a good thing if they don’t think first. When a death occurs, Facebook especially can give a family the means to contact all of their friends and those friends, in turn, have the opportunity to post condolences and tell stories and share memories of the person who has died.
But all the technology in the world is no substitute for the human touch. It can’t take the place of a hug. It can’t look those left behind in the eye and cry with them . . . or laugh. It can’t tell that family they were important enough to you that you left the comfort of your home and came to be with them as they mourned their loss and said their good-byes.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t post our expressions of sympathy or share our memories on-line; often that’s as helpful for the poster as it is for the postee, but don’t then close your laptop or put away your phone and think you’re done. When dealing with Death, it’s important to be there for the people who are grieving . . . literally, not just technologically.